Meanwhile… Back At Fangtasia
Sookie didn’t wait a moment once I’d put the car in gear. “Thanks for the ride. I didn’t realize that you’d get stuck taking me back to Bon Temps when… well, when you suggested I come along.”
I couldn’t help but laugh at how bizarre the statement was. “He’d have taken you back, but we need to talk.”
“I’m pretty sure he just wanted to prove he wasn’t crazy as much as I wanted him to see I wasn’t who he was looking for.”
“You are who he was looking for though… there’s no doubt in my mind that they really are us.” Another ludicrous remark.
“You were really quiet in there.”
“I didn’t have anything intelligent to say.”
“Are you saying that I sounded like an idiot?” Completely and epically idiotic along with prudishly offensive and fiercely jaded. A total package of loveliness.
“No. You sounded like someone who was dealing with very unusual circumstances… I didn’t say much because for a long time, the only thing I could think about was that I was looking at another me.” It doesn’t happen often, but even vampires get gob-smacked from time to time.
She stared at me quietly for a moment before she thought of something to say. “You… You’ve been around for a while. Have you ever had anything like this happen?”
“No. Nothing even close. No… I blame you.”
“Settle down… I was mostly joking. Since you’re part Fae and traditionally Fae and vampires don’t mix… I think I have grounds to hold the unique circumstances responsible… rather, their unique circumstances.”
“I didn’t do anything though.” She was practically whining.
“I doubt that it matters. As it is, they aren’t concerned with what happened as much as how to get back to where or whenever they came from.”
“I can’t blame them really… What happened when you got to Fangtasia? She said you suck.”
“All vampires ‘suck’.”
She giggled. “You know what I mean.”
I did know what she meant…
…It was supposed to be just another boring night. Work. Sit. Watch. Feed. Die. The same boring shit night after night and I’d actually considered calling Compton to have him bring his fascinating little pet for a visit once I could get Pam to help me think of a mind for Sookie to read… I hadn’t considered for a moment that Bill wouldn’t have healed her injuries by then…
…Pam was on her way over to me when I came from the back hallway and that’s when I noticed Sookie… She was wearing a jean skirt and black leather vest that hugged and squeezed every bit of her perfectly and she was spooning cherries into a garnish tray while violently motioning to Kyra to get her ‘nasty ass acquainted with the shower stall’…
…And when she spotted me… it only took a moment for her face to completely light up. I’d never seen her smile like that. I’d seen her smile, but by comparison, they all seemed counterfeit. That was how Sookie truly smiled. And it only got better as she practically ran over to me…
…How firmly she’d taken my wrist was as surprising as how she seemed so sure that I’d follow her. More shocking was that when she slammed my office door behind us and I opened my mouth to greet her, she lifted her leg to snake it around my hip and lift herself to kiss me. She didn’t hesitate when I pinned her to the wall to keep her exactly where she was, when I pulled her other leg up to wrap it behind me, or when my fangs ran out and nicked her lip… it only seemed to make her cling to me even more tightly, rub herself against me more persistently, whimper as my hands followed the backs of her thighs up to her ass more eagerly…
…She’d been standoffish at best around me, but I wasn’t interested in the reason for her sudden change of mind… not when she chewed my lip on her way to taunt my neck, not when she was digging her nails into my shoulders as though she knew I liked it, not when her scent became even stronger when I pushed her panties to the side and she moaned against my neck to ask if something was ‘wrong’ with the couch…
…The moment I was sitting her hands went to my belt. On her knees over me, still dragging her teeth over my neck like she wanted to be bitten and opening my pants… and when her ring scraped across my stomach in her frenzy, breaking the skin, she smirked through her apology as she leaned in to lick away the trace of blood…
And then I fucked up by opening my mouth. “Nice ring.” Even if Bill had probably gotten it for her, I was grateful for the damn thing since it was the reason her mouth was on the short journey from the scrape to my cock…
She hummed against me. “If that’s why you bought it, you should’ve said so sooner.” Me?…
I took her face in my hands to stop her and I’m still not sure why. “What do you mean, ‘why I bought it’?”…
She gave me a confused look and pulled my hand away from her face to look at it. “Where’s yours?”…
“Where’s my what?”…
Her look became more serious. “Your ring. You took it off? I didn’t expect you to wear it all the time, but you said…” She practically launched herself off of my legs and started pacing the floor and that was the precise moment that I realized I should’ve just kept my fucking mouth shut. I’d ruined the first real fun I would’ve had in years with eight fucking letters. “…PAM!”
I watched her pace like a caged cat until Pam came to the door… I was at a loss, but not so much that I could ignore the devilish grin on her face. “That was fast.” Bitch.
Sookie let a wry laugh. “No shit. He’s not my Eric.”
“Your Eric? What does your Eric look like? Maybe I’ve seen him.”
Sookie rolled her eyes on her way across the floor. “He looks like that, but that jerk doesn’t remember giving me my ring. He isn’t wearing his… You said that he told you to order a drink for me. That he was on his way. Right?”
Pam put her hands up. “Alright… I’m a bit confused. He told me to get a Lynchburg Lemonade for you and tell you he was on his way, but…”
I started shaking my head. “I didn’t talk to you earlier.” I put myself back together and stood with both women who seemed to have lost their minds.
“Yes you did. I called you when I rose and you were anxiously searching for Sookie. When she arrived here, I called you again.”
“Pam, I haven’t talked to you tonight. I wasn’t searching for Sookie.” I’d been going through my employee files trying to think of a reason to hire a telepath.
“I’m… I’m with Sookie. I talked to you. You were looking for her. When she got here, she was nearly frantic looking for you. I called. We talked. Lemonade. It happened.”
“I’m telling you it didn’t.” I took my phone out and handed it to her so that she could see that the last call I’d gotten was from Bobby…
So she raised her eyebrow and dug her phone out of her corset… “And I’m telling you that it did.” Her phone log said that she’d talked to me twice.
“What the fuck is going on? Really, I haven’t spoken to anyone all night… If this is a joke…” I’d kill her.
“I’m not joking…”
Sookie startled Pam by taking hold of her hand. “Where’s your bracelet? You’ve been wearing it for days.”
“Bracelet? Sookie? Are you feeling alright?”
“Platinum. Double link chain. Two charms dangle next to the clasp. One is a pavé ‘P’ and the other is a round plaque with a medic alert symbol and the other side has ‘oniomania’ engraved. Gran suggested it when she heard that your kitchen cabinets are full of shoes.” That wasn’t something anyone would know…
Pam started shaking her head in disbelief as she backed away. “My cabinets? How do you know…”
Sookie was practically beside herself, rolling her eyes as she started. “Your hairless cats are named Armani and Versace. You have to pierce your ears every night because your mother considered it ‘unfashionable’. You’re sure that OJ Simpson is a Were since he killed his wife at midnight during a full moon… and that he shifted slightly so that the damn glove wouldn’t fit right and you’re pretty sure that the racist cop is from a rival pack. How’s that?”
We both stared at her for a while before I thought of anything to say. “I thought you can’t read vampires’ minds.”
“I can’t. Only yours. You know that.” Oh. Shit.
“How could I possibly know that?”
“Because… Are y’all screwing with me? If you are it’s a good one! Maybe even better than the Curse of the Disappearing Gouchos.”
Pam gasped, “You told her! This IS a joke!”
“I didn’t tell her anything. She just said that she could read my mind.”
Sookie shot an angry look in my direction. “Five times. We’re counting… it’s always something random… You’re serious? You don’t know me?”
“I know who you are… You’re Sookie Stackhouse, telepathic pet of Bill Compton, waitress and serial killer’s champion.”
“No… I’m Sookie Stackhouse, bonded telepath of my master, Eric Northman.” I actually liked the sound of that.
“We aren’t bonded. You’d have needed my blood for that. Is Compton behind this?”
Her angry look lingered for a moment before she went behind my desk and opened a drawer to pull out a thumb tack… as she walked over she pricked her finger and let a bead pool. She rubbed the drop over Pam’s lip and asked, “Who do I taste like?”
Pam’s eyes were wide before her tongue was behind her lips again. “Eric… she really does. She tastes like you. And… wow… Compton’s lucky for such a daft prick.” She licked her lips again to rub it in that she’d gotten to taste Sookie’s blood before me.
Sookie raised her eyebrows and put her hands on her hips. “Told you. How would I taste like you?”
“I’m not convinced. She hasn’t had my blood in ages. She could be wrong.”
Sookie smirked, actually smirked and pricked her finger again, but instead of leaving the drop on my lip as she had for Pam, she slid her finger into my mouth… her flavor flooded my senses as she wrapped her arm around my back and pressed herself into my side. Pam was right; about Sookie tasting like me and about Compton being lucky. That mother fucker didn’t deserve to taste anything so perfect… I’d never tasted anything quite like it. As she pulled her finger away, she pricked it again on my fang and left a deposit behind. While I savored her taste, she spoke softly enough that it could be considered a purr. “You aren’t really a Viking, but you gave up correcting people centuries ago. The last time you had the argument was with the Berts. You tried to make the point that not all Swedes were Vikings anymore than all Germans were Nazis. They didn’t get it and pointed out that they were Saxons, not Germans…. Your name has always been Eric even if you changed the spelling depending on where you lived… You only lived in Ireland for a few months because a lot of cabbage in a diet makes blood taste funny and that’s how you ended up going to England and finding Pam…” She paused for a moment, making me realize that my eyes were locked on hers as though she was glamouring me. She licked her lips and ran her finger down my arm to take my hand. “You love the way I smell when I sunbathe and then climb into bed and wait for you to rise. Your favorite place to take blood is my thigh. We constantly ruin sheets with our blood even though we spend plenty of time in the shower and your pool. You love telling me what to do and watching me… And you cuss in dead languages when you cum… Convinced yet?”
I pointed to the door and waited for Pam to realize it was her cue to exit, never taking my eyes from Sookie’s. “As much as I’d like for you to be mine, you aren’t the Sookie I know. The last time I laid eyes on Sookie she was Compton’s and far too bashful to say ‘cum’ at all… let alone to me.”
“Really. I don’t know what the fuck is going on, but I’m sure it can all be straightened out… You should call Bill to come get you before you do something you regret.” Idiot. I was an idiot and the only fucking thing to blame it on was that I couldn’t possibly think clearly while her arms were around me and my cock was pressed against her hip.
“I wouldn’t call that knob even if I could.”
“Why?… on both counts.”
“I wouldn’t because I hate him and I couldn’t because he’s in New Orleans getting punished for trying to fuck over the queen.”
“When did that happen?” I’d just see him at the hospital with her a few days ago.
“Last week.” She stepped back and plopped down onto the couch and scowled at it, then the rug. “What happened to the ones Pam picked, I liked them. If I didn’t know better, I’d swear Bobby picked these.” He had, but it was just another item on a list of shit that the Sookie I knew wouldn’t have any knowledge of.
…That was when we finally started comparing notes… she believed wholeheartedly in her angle of the last 17 days of her life. So much so that I began questioning my own sanity, even if it was primarily because I preferred the idea of her being mine as opposed to Compton’s…
I was getting hard again just remembering Sookie’s taste, the way she felt and breathed… “When I entered the bar she was filling the garnish stations and ordering one of the waitresses to go take a shower because she smelled ‘too bad to change bedpans’… She greeted me in the same fashion she greeted him after yanking me into my office…”
“She yanked you?”
“I didn’t have any reason to think that it wasn’t you… Even if you were draining Bill, which I know you wouldn’t, you wouldn’t be that strong… She took me by surprise. You couldn’t budge me.”
“I’m a little stronger since the Long Shadow thing… She must be getting a lot.”
“Practically every night.” And if vampires could shit, I would’ve when he told me as much.
“It would explain a lot about her personality… the differences between you, that is. She’s protective of him like a vampire would be over their pet and she… The way she dealt with Bill and explained things to the queen…”
“Care to explain that?”
“If you promise to count to ten before you respond, I will.”
She rolled her eyes and groaned, “Fine.”
“You’re cheeky. You sassed me the first time you came to Fangtasia but you still lack confidence in your ability and how valuable it can be. That Sookie has spent the last couple of weeks surrounded by vampires who appreciate her and it’s practically repaired the damage done by her life of being surrounded by people who fear her. She’s being more sensible because her master is practical. She’s more confident because her master is self-assured. She’s being more strategic because her master is tactical… She’s also more aggressive because of him too.”
“How does that work?”
“You didn’t count to ten.”
“I wasn’t responding. I was asking for clarification. Well?” At least she hadn’t denied being mouthy.
“When a human and a vampire bond or a vampire makes a child they can feel and influence each other. Sometimes it’s intentional. Sometimes it isn’t. She’s picking up his personality traits.”
She made an amused snort. “That would explain a lot… he wasn’t exactly vampirey at my house.”
“He seemed so obsessed with finding her…”
“She was just as obsessed with finding him as well. She wasn’t pleased when she realized I had no idea what she was talking about.”
She giggled. “What do you expect? You let her kiss you.”
I raised my eyebrow at her. “I thought she was you.”
She furrowed her brow. “I think that makes it more weird.”
“That you’d let me kiss you like that.”
“It was an amazing kiss. Would you like a demonstration?”
She laughed and rolled her eyes. “I think I’ll pass… I’m starting to think I should’ve spent more time with the other me.”
“Why is that?”
“She knows more about y’all than me. All I know is what Bill explained, so I can’t trust any of it. I’m… she’s been around you more.”
“Who do you think she learned from? What do you want to know?”
“I don’t know… stuff. She spent most of her time telling me how to behave when we go to New Orleans and what you and Pam are like… not really anything else.”
“How to behave?”
“Yeah. She figured I’d be a bitch to you if you told me how to be a ‘pet’… I guess she’s right. I probably would’ve flipped out if you told me to call you ‘master’.”
“He told me that she is very good at the pageantry required. He was complimented on how well she heels, but… they aren’t like that privately.”
“I…” She cleared her throat and shifted, catching my attention. “…I know.”
“Oh, did that Sookie kiss and tell?”
I didn’t even have to look directly at her to know she was blushing. “She told me that they’re like a team… That she’s only a pet around other vampires. He doesn’t boss her around or anything.”
“That isn’t what’s making you blush though.”
“I’m not blushing.”
“You most certainly are blushing. The little bit of your face that isn’t bruised, is the same color as my car…”
“Fine! That you kissed and told… when he was trying to convince me.”
“Oh really? Care to share?”
“Alright then, I’ll change the subject… Why didn’t you let him heal you? He told me that he offered.”
“He didn’t really offer as much as shove a bloody wrist in my face after he tried to come into my house without an invitation.”
“Ah, well, he was under the impression that you were her. He wouldn’t have let her go along like that. I’m not particularly fond of seeing you like that either.”
She sniped, “Not enjoying the view?”
“You’re quite bitter.”
“Oh, I’m sorry… I should try to be more sensitive. Poor Eric, you just found out that if things had gone differently, you’d have been doing me for two weeks… and I just found out that if I hadn’t been a dumbass my Gran wouldn’t have been murdered, my brother would still be talking to me, I wouldn’t have been sleeping with someone who just wanted a mindreading faerie to snack from and dangle in front of the queen and I wouldn’t be worrying about losing my house because of all the time I’ve had to take off of work because I was beaten to within an inch of my life. Sorry if my shitty life is bringing you down!”
“I’m sorry about your grandmother. I understand she was a remarkable woman. Your brother will come around. You need to understand he’s in mourning and that you’re blaming yourself just as much as he is. I hear that anger is one of the stages of grief…. As for your house and bills and injuries, I’ll help if you let me.”
“You’ll pay my bills and give me your blood. Gee. What on earth could you possibly want in return?”
“If you want to, consider it a loan. You’ll be able to repay me, if you insist, once you receive your retainer from the queen. He told me that the other you had already paid off your mortgage with cash to spare. I would consider the healing to be a belated compensation for the injury Long Shadow gave you while doing a favor for me.” She stared at me, making it painfully obvious that she thought I’d expect sex in return.
“And highly offended by the look on your face. You’ve already stated that you couldn’t trust anything Bill told you, and yet you’d think that I’d barter for sex… I can be a bastard. I’m fucking good at it, but there’s no sport in picking off the weak.”
She opened her mouth as though she was going to say something several times, but the rest of the drive went by without conversation…
When we arrived at her house, run down as it was, I’d lost enough patience that I didn’t bother with her door. I simply walked up to the porch and waited to test a theory.
I waited for her to unlock the door and when she opened her mouth to invite me in, I put my hand up. “You already invited me in once tonight, yes?”
“No, I invited him in.” Semantics.
“Humor me.” I didn’t wait for her to argue about anything, I put my foot out and stepped into her house with no problem.
I was tempted to turn around to say something along the lines of an ‘I told you so’, but it wouldn’t do anything but annoy her and her mouth was already open. “Holy crap! He really was you… They really were us… Oh my god… That’s crazy, Eric! Part of me was still thinking… Holy crap!”
“As opposed to holy shit?”
“I don’t cuss a lot. Gran didn’t like it.”
“Do you say ‘cum’?”
Her face became as red as a beet, again. “NO!”
I couldn’t help but laugh as I turned to go to the kitchen. “I didn’t think so.”
She followed me. “Didn’t think what?”
“The other you isn’t as… bashful as you still are. She mentioned a few more intimate details while she was trying to convince me… I think she was hoping I’d remember.”
“She told you about me!?”
I started opening drawers to try to find a pen. “No… She told me about me… Telling me about you would’ve been counterproductive since I wouldn’t know any better. She could’ve told me that you enjoy any number of bizarre acts and I’d have no way to dispute it, however telling me what I like made me realize that her story was worth an audience.”
“He should’ve thought about that. He tried the same thing. He did alright with the random tidbits about me, but then he was describing them as a couple and… well then stuff I’ve never done… so…”
I tried biting my lip, but the smile I’d wanted to prevent was already irritating her.
“…What’s that? That smirk… you think it’s funny that I’m inexperienced?” Not at all… Especially not considering ‘Eric’ had shared the reasons for it.
“No. I was thinking of the adage, ‘what a difference a day makes’.”
“It wasn’t just a day though, or a few days… It was a hellish two weeks.”
“I’m not arguing that.”
“Then what are you saying?… And what are you looking for?”
“I’m saying that while you blush just hearing the word ‘cum’… she said it with her finger in my mouth. I’m looking for a pen. Where can I find one?”
When she didn’t answer, I turned to see her mouth hanging open and her eyes were comically wide.
“What?” I wasn’t sure I wanted to hear what was on her mind, but it didn’t make much sense to set a precedent for practicality, all things considered.
“She… I wouldn’t do that.”
“Not now you wouldn’t, but she was very determined to convince me she was mine. She was proving that she tasted like me. A pen?”
“She didn’t just smell like you? That’s a little drastic.”
“It hadn’t occurred to me other than she didn’t smell like Bill. I was preoccupied with being molested.”
She gasped, blushing again instantly. “Molested?”
“Can we discuss it after you tell me where to find a pen?”
The look she gave me was amusing enough, like it was the first time she’d heard me ask and I followed her, assuming the desk I’d noticed in the living room would be our destination…
But I found myself standing just inside a small bedroom scattered with stacked boxes while she rummaged through a night stand drawer. She finally approached me with a pen held out. “Sorry. Gran had a thing for pencils. Said that only conceited people use pens.”
I chuckled at the thought. “I think I might’ve liked to have known her. She sounds very interesting.”
“The other you was upset that she’s dead… He said they’re friends.”
“He told me that Pam calls her Gran and that she’s planning their vacation to Rome next year… Perhaps the idea that there’s at least one of her somewhere who is quite healthy and happy will help you get through mourning her loss.” Not that I’d know how the fuck to mourn anyone.
Her eyes began to fill, but she seemed determined to not let any tears spill. “I’m sorry about the mess… I was in the process of moving into Gran’s room when… Well, I haven’t been much up to going through the rest or carting stuff off.”
“Understandable…” Since she seemed to want a change of subject, I motioned to the closet. “Are your things already moved in?”
I was opening the closet door before she was done nodding. “What are you looking for now?”
Shuffling the hangers along the bar, I found that she had an astounding collection of clothes that would cause melodramatic weeping and ranting from Pam. I would never hear the end of the jokes. “I’m going to need your sizes. I’ll have Pam take care of getting the clothing you’ll need for our trip.”
“I have plenty of clothes. You don’t have to do that.”
“Pam will enjoy the excuse to shop and you’ll be required to dress according to the queen’s standards… It’s part of the pageantry I mentioned earlier. You’ll need to look the part.”
She sighed, “What part is that?”
“The part of a pet in training. If you seem to be resistant to acclimating it will bring suspicions as to how flexible you are about who your master is.”
“I need to heel.”
I chuckled, closing the door. “You most certainly do. Not to worry, you’ll be free to be a brat when no one is watching.”
“I’m not a brat.”
“Sullen, confrontational, indignant, suspicious, sardonic… I could go on, but it would just push you to prove the list. If you behave that way towards me in public, you could very easily find yourself in the ‘care’ of another vampire. One that would very quickly start to break you of those traits. The façade is a necessary evil. Surely, Sookie explained that to you.”
She stared at me for a moment, visibly frightened by the reality… “I wasn’t… She did explain it to me. I was just saying that I’m not a brat. Brats are spoiled and I’ve worked for every lit bit of what I have… I’m just stubborn.”
“Good…” I walked past her to return to the kitchen and sat at the table, pulling my checkbook out of my pocket. All the while, she was directly behind me. “…Hotel or my house?”
“In New Orleans, would you prefer to stay at my house or would you be more comfortable with adjoining rooms in a hotel?”
“Oh, uh… you know I hadn’t considered it because Sookie told me she stayed at your house and told me all about Paulette. Besides, wouldn’t it look funny if we had hotel rooms when you have a house there?”
“I could explain it away by saying there is a plumbing malfunction. If you’re sure that you’ll be comfortable, I’ll contact Paulette tonight about having the house ready for us.”
She sat down next to me. “Yeah… that’s fine. When do you think we’ll go?”
“I could rise tomorrow to find that they expect us by dawn. Be prepared for that, but most likely it’ll be the next night. She won’t wait long to find out why she should cancel a wedding that’s been in negotiations for more than a year.”
“Uh… about that…”
“Don’t worry. You’ll be fine. Sookie explained that she discovered accidentally that holding onto me makes focusing less of a chore.”
“Holding on? Did she say how?”
“She said that she noticed it the night she was at Fangtasia about the theft. He was giving her a massage and she was able to go through each mind out in the bar individually.”
“Really? Wait… no. They’re bonded though.”
“Not at the time. She hadn’t had his or Long Shadow’s. She said that she was able to block the others because she was focusing on only two things. His ‘nothing’ and the one other brain in question… That’s quite a remarkable talent you have. I’m curious about it; how it works.”
She puffed out her cheeks. “I’m probably as excited about being a mind reader as you are about being a vampire. It’s not all it’s cracked up to be.”
“Not if you concentrate on the negative aspects of it. Anyone could walk around whining and feeling sorry for themselves over every aspect of their being if they wanted to, but no one wants to be around them. Being affected is just something you have to muddle through. Wallowing is unforgivable.”
“That’s easy for you to say. You’re a vampire. You’re at the top of the food chain.”
“You could be a vampire too, but you’d be a mind reading vampire without a tan.”
She actually giggled. “It’s getting late. We can do the pros and cons later, K?”
“Certainly. We’ll have plenty of time to kill in New Orleans, but you should be prepared to lose. After all, I have Pam to add to my con list.”
She laughed and nudged my leg with her foot. “Shut up! Sookie already told me that y’all are like brother and sister. Y’all are together because you like it.” Without an honest argument, I smiled and finally began making the check out for Sookie’s bills.
She seemed to disconnect for a moment… while she stared at what I decided must be the light switch next to the back door, I found a note pad in a drawer to leave my number, Paulette’s and Bobby’s…
She finally spoke again, beginning by taking a sharp breath. “The queen is going to kill Bill, isn’t she?”
“I’m sure that she won’t let him get away with his little operation. She sent him on a simple task… As we compared notes the two of us decided that your grandmother’s life would have been easily spared even if he intended to keep you for his own.”
“I’m afraid to ask… but… how?”
“If he had been truthful to the queen about your family…”
“Wait… Sookie didn’t tell me why he was sent.”
“His original task was to put himself in your path so that he could determine how the Stackhouse family regards vampires… He reprioritized his agenda when he discovered your ability. In the other version, Sophie-Ann arranged a meeting as soon as she heard that you and your grandmother were willing to reunite with Hadley. They were in New Orleans while your grandmother was being murdered.”
She sniffled, but still seemed unwilling to cry. “If I ask you something, will I get an honest answer or will I get a vampire answer?”
Given the topic, my chuckle was inappropriate. “If I can’t give you an honest answer, then I’ll tell you.”
“He let her die on purpose, didn’t he… It wasn’t just because he didn’t think to watch out for her or whatever… I told him that her and Jason were all I had left… That’s why he wasn’t more help trying to find out who was framing Jason… Something happening to Gran would make me weaker and that’s what he wanted, right? Gran died because being around him made me look like a fangbanger and now Jason blames me for that… so Sookie is all alone and Bill looks like a prince for helping me through my ordeal.”
“I didn’t think he had it in him, but that seems to be the case.”
“You’re impressed with that?”
“I’m not impressed with what he put you through. I’m impressed that he thought to isolate you even though it was foolish considering Adele’s apparent acceptance of ‘your’ relationship with ‘me’. I suppose you could compare it to a small child finally thinking to put his pants on before his shoes. He’s not much of a vampire. You could call him a minion.”
“As opposed to a sheriff?”
“There isn’t much difference to the mentality when it comes to humans. There are people who notice subtlety, take initiative, guide well and plan strategically. Then there are those who don’t… He might have had a chance to achieve mediocrity if he had a civilized maker, but she’s a raving lunatic.”
“You know his maker?” Sadly.
I nodded. “Our paths have crossed.”
“So which one am I?”
“After what you saw tonight, I’m surprised you have to ask. It took you but a moment to decide on how to tell the queen about Compton’s betrayal and align a meeting to secure your contract and tend to necessary business…”
“It took HER just a second…”
“One in the same, Sookie. The two of you aren’t look-alikes. She is every bit as much you as he is me… The last few days have been drastically different for you, but you have it in you to be that calm and deliberate under pressure as she is. And as much as you might want to blame his blood for her steel, a bond doesn’t make one something they aren’t. It just strengthens what is already there.”
She huffed and slid down in her chair. “At least you think so.”
“Granted, I probably wouldn’t be so sure of that if he hadn’t described what you’ve been able to accomplish, but you’ll eventually realize what you’re capable of.”
She sighed and stared blankly for a moment. “So this spy I supposedly heard…”
“A human, Winston, was caught thinking about how it didn’t seem like it would be as easy to end me as the rest of the Louisiana sheriffs. Pam ended him when you got everything you could from him. You were there to look for problems in my bar while I test your ability. Bill wasn’t happy about it, but since you volunteered your services to me he couldn’t argue when I called him tonight.”
“Do you think she’ll buy that story though? I mean… There’s no Winston and Bill will try to plead his case and…”
“The queen doesn’t ‘send flowers’ when she wants information. He won’t be given the chance to defend himself. As for ‘Winston’, the other me wrote a list of what she found when she was in New Orleans. Not only will you ‘discover’ several spies from Arkansas, but you’ll uncover church spies and a plot to end your cousin. You’ll do it quickly enough to impress a vampire queen and she’ll immediately offer a contract for your services.”
“If you say so, boss.”
She shrugged. “It’s just a saying… I just hope I don’t screw up.”
“Can I ask you something?”
“You didn’t seem to have much reaction to learning that your cousin has been turned. Why is that?”
She shrugged again. “One of those bittersweet things I guess. We hadn’t heard from her in about 5 years… It’s nice to know she’s alright… I mean, heroin was her only friend the last time we saw her, but she should’ve called… Gran, even her mom, died thinking Hadley was dead.”
“She is dead.”
“What exactly am I supposed to get from ‘whatever’? Pam does that to me too.”
She giggled. “Do you argue semantics with her too?… She’s a vampire. She’s not ‘dead’. Maybe at dawn she is, but right now she isn’t.”
“It’s not as though we’re just heavy sleepers, Sookie.”
“Photophobic with severe food allergies. How ‘bout that?” That actually got a laugh out of me.
“Photophobic with severe food allergies, heightened senses and reflexes and a penchant for secrets.”
She rolled her eyes playfully, “Weres have really bad PMS.” I laughed again.
“Severe monthly mood swings… but how would you explain the hair growth?”
“What is that?”
“The dog face boy from the circus… then again…”
“Then again what?”
“Gran had a theory… She never bought Prophyria as vampirism, but she thought that the Hypertrichosis disorder was a cover and I haven’t gotten around to asking Sam if he knows… but since I have you here, what is ‘Bombay’… really?”
Laughing again. “Is it bizarre that I wouldn’t be bothered to find myself in their predicament if I have the chance to meet your grandmother?”
She tilted her head to the side with a curious grin on her face. “Why? Was she right?”
“Bombay was ‘discovered’ in Bombay, India. It’s the rarest of ‘blood types’ because it is supernatural. Scientifically blood only has 3 types. A, B and O or their byproducts… Bombay is none of the above and what human doctors labeled pure Elves as having. It’s disgusting.”
“OH. MY. GOD!”
I nodded. “That grandmother of yours was quite perceptive. He told me that when he revealed to you that Merlotte is a shifter, she only reacted enough to seem satisfied at the news as though he was claiming to have witnessed ‘creation’.”
“Creation, huh? Don’t get me started on that. Gran liked to get into debates about that… Since Vampires have the senses and speed and abilities… that and y’all are harder to kill than a human… she liked to get a rise out of her friends by saying that the Gods were vampires… She got into it with one of the DGD women that Adam could’ve been a vampire with the way the bible was written since Eve was made from him.”
“Funny you should mention it… Pam checked into a hotel not long ago using those names for us. Then again, she’s also used Sampson and Delilah, Hansel and Gretel and Homer and Marge.”
“And yet you still let her make the reservations.”
“She overthinks our aliases and then I pretend to be offended. It’s a game we play not unlike the eavesdropping Sookie mentioned earlier. It saves the time of needing to reiterate, but I still give her grief about it… Having you around more often might add to the fun since you can feel her lurking. I have to consciously ‘look’ for her.”
She giggled, shaking her head. “Sookie told me that y’all play jokes on each other… I’m not interested in getting stuck in the middle of a vampire prank war.”
Since it was after 3 am, I got up to take care of my last chore before leaving. “Fair enough, but from what I understand you’d enjoy it.”
She stood to watch me go to her dish rack and take a knife and coffee cup. “What are you doing?”
She gasped when a cut my wrist and let my blood spill into the cup. “I owe you a healing… I started the pranks though. She wasn’t happy about a move we made when she was still very young. To be blunt, she was making an unfortunate situation worse. I spent the better part of an evening collecting rats and draining them and then had a servant place them in her bed during the day… she thought she’d drained them all in a blood lust until I ‘caught’ her trying to dispose of the ‘bodies’. The look on her face was priceless and getting revenge distracted her from how much she hated Brussels.”
She had been distracted enough by the story to grin about the joke, but still stared at my wrist. “I’m not sure I want to…”
“Then dump it out, but according to how things went for them, by the time they went to New Orleans she’d had his blood once. It could have helped her in identifying the spies.”
“But you’ll be able to feel me.”
“Which is why she took it initially. So that he’d have some clues if something happened. Even though they were suspicious of the queen at the time, it could still end up being a helpful tool. He told me that she can feel it when he tries to influence her. He’s tried to calm her down, but she can identify the sensation as foreign if that’s what you’re concerned about… This bit of my blood will more than heal your wounds and you’ll be perfectly fit within minutes.”
“Mind if I ask why you’re doing the cup thing instead of… well… When Bill gave me…”
“First of all, I’m not Bill. I’d very much appreciate it if you adjust to that concept as quickly as possible… Secondly, he alerted me to a unique event when they share blood. Since you’re too shy to say ‘cum’ in my presence, I doubt you’re keen to do it with me.”
Her eyes widened and she took a startled step away from me. “He… She… They… I…?”
It was hard to keep a straight face between her confusion and awkwardness. “They call it ‘losing time’. Whenever she takes blood from him, they practically maul each other. He said that I’d never felt anything like it and that they’ve lost track of time until well after dawn. While the prospect intrigues me, I didn’t imagine that you’d be comfortable with that idea.”
“Well… thanks… I guess.”
“Certainly. So… I left the check blank so that you can fill in the amount you’ll need once you’re done tallying your bills… I left my number, Paulette’s and my day-guy’s call if you think of anything you need… Pam will make arrangements for what you’ll need to wear in public, but you should feel free to pack anything you might want to be more casual in… If you’re unsure about taking my blood, then it’ll keep in the refrigerator… He mentioned that Sookie would most likely sneak out of the house to pay a visit to you tomorrow… if there’s nothing else, I’ll leave you to get some rest.”
“If they’re at your house where are you going to go?”
“You have extra light tight rooms?”
“No, but there is plenty of room for me on the floor. It’s not as though I need a bed… I’m hoping to learn more before dawn. I’m anxious to see what kind of progress they’ve made in thinking a way through their situation.”
“Oh, ok…” She stepped out of my way when she realized that she’d moved into my path, but when I reached the foyer she whimpered my name to get my attention.
No sooner than I turned to her, she wrapped her arms around my sides. I had to search for a way to react… my urge to replace the lingering scent of Compton with my own was increasing with every one of her heartbeats since her chest was pressed against me. Even if it had been another version of her, every impulse I’d had earlier taunted me… “You don’t need to worry. Bill won’t be free to cause any trouble.”
“It’s not that. It’s just… well… thank you.”
“And I’m sorry.”
“Are you going to tell me what you’re sorry for?”
“Same thing I guess… You were patient with me even though I was being a bitch.”
“Ah, then you’re not welcome nor are you forgiven.”
She lifted her chin and pouted her bottom lip… Why the fuck did she have to do that? “Why not?”
“Because… I wasn’t being patient. I’m simply better practiced at hiding hostility… and you aren’t a bitch. I’ve been informed that you have absolutely no experience being shocked because of your ability and that you’ll adjust well given time.”
“Still… I must’ve been bad since she told me that if I didn’t shut up she’d tie me to a chair and her and Pam would use me for ‘thumb tack target practice’.”
Sookie’s lingering scent began needling me as soon as I lowered myself into my car… It made me question the intelligence of returning to my house knowing that she’d be there… And how the fuck I managed to control myself around her…
Having seen her sitting on my own lap in my office, knowing that at least some version of her had been able to chose me rather than Compton was almost enough to give me some semblance of hope… but when my copy mentioned that she talks in her sleep, I couldn’t resist asking more about her once the business portion of our conversation had been over.
“You said that she was willing to bond?”
He nodded. “By the time we’d been sleeping together for a week. The first time she had my blood was because neither of us were sure of Sophie-Ann’s motives and it was a security measure, but she was willing considering the reasons and by the time we bonded, she was already considering being turned…” Never mind that I’d said ‘sleeping together’ rather than ‘fucking’…
“Turned?” I was still shocked to hear that she’d take my blood.
“She brought it up in passing because of the incident when she and Pam were injured. At the time she would only have wanted it rather than death, but she’s made a few offhand mentions since then. Adele was the catalyst for me though. You may well have to work harder for it.”
“Why would you want to turn her in the first place?” Why would I care how she felt about it, for that matter?
The way he grinned suddenly made me realize why Pam called me ‘kickably smug’. “You’ll learn… She’s worth it… I’d have worked much harder to get her.”
“What makes her worth it though? That mouth…”
“That will calm down once she learns that she can trust you. As it is the only time Sookie has argued with me has been because she felt I wasn’t taking my safety seriously. There’s no end to her sass though, but even that is more of an amusement than a bother.”
“Such as hurling a stapler into the face of a vampire, daring him to strike and then backhanding him like an enraged pimp?”
“And having the balls to introduce herself to the queen. She’s abused her Shifter boss and her Wolf bodyguard. She and Pam pick at each other like sisters, and Pam enjoys it. Mine kicked the Berts and had PMS medication sent to Andre. She’s got brass. Considering what yours has been through, you’ll have to invest more… Just don’t lie to her. The truth goes a long way with that family. They’d rather be scared and informed than kept in the dark.” Unfuckingbelievable.
“You said that she was with you when you rose… She stayed with you in New Orleans?”
“And in my house. She found my resting place because she could feel my mind’s location. She hasn’t spent a single night in her house since she came to Shreveport. She sunbathes until just before sunset and that’s what I rise to more often than not… Her heat nestled against my side, smelling of sunlight and fucking up with her would be the biggest mistake you ever make.”
“That’s a bit extreme.”
“No. It isn’t. She’s not just a pet… I thought she would be at first. I resisted anything other than fucking, feeding and protecting her… she’s addictive.”
“That sounds like a distraction I should avoid.”
“It’s a distraction that you need. I needed it. HER. You’ve probably had more fun thinking of reasons to hire her these past couple of weeks than you can remember. Imagine being with her. Imagine dying every fucking morning with her by your side, knowing that she’ll be there again at sunset. She’s made a name for herself in the Supe community. She enjoys the independence she gets from her new income. She rejects being spoiled…” Nice try.
“She seemed quite preoccupied with the ring…”
“That ring was a ‘punishment’ for complaining about gifts… mine was her retaliation. Make no mistakes about it. Sookie is no pet. She plays the part well, but she is an equal. A partner…”
Since Kyra interrupted our discussion with a note from his Sookie, my brief Sookie tutorial was over and I was left to notice that I was still curious in spite of all that I’d already learned…
Even if I was obsessed, I’d be damned if I’d give Pam the satisfaction of admitting it.
I replayed the conversation to myself on a continuous loop until I pulled my car into my garage.
I paused for a moment before getting out, bracing myself, knowing that I’d have another hour before sunrise of smelling her… Smelling her and remembering what she tasted like and how close she had me to bloodlust…
And more than absurd… even though she was mine, I couldn’t touch her, I couldn’t have her, because she already belonged to me…
As I moved through the house, her scent only became more powerful.
Approaching my own room, having Sookie’s scent hanging in the air stirred the temptation to make the short drive to Pam’s house for my rest.
But I wasn’t about to hide. Being around her, one of her anyway, was something I would just have to become accustomed to.
I rolled my eyes at myself when I knocked on the door to my own fucking room.
I was more than slightly surprised by the lack of an answer though. I’d have heard the water running or a conversation… even if Sookie were sleeping, I wouldn’t be.
I gave one more knock before entering… and found nothing.
Even though the room was full of Sookie’s fragrance, there were no other traces that they’d been in the house… It was strange enough to inspect things more closely, but being disappointed by what I found irritated me to no end.
After quick calls to Bobby and Paulette about their chores for the day and texting Pam so that I wouldn’t have to answer her torrent of questions I decided to call Sookie…
It was, in all honesty, a test of my mental stability.
“I didn’t wake you, did I?”
“Nope… I’m just doing some bookkeeping. You aren’t calling to fuss at me for not drinking your blood yet are you?”
“No. I suffer from no delusions that you’d drink it because I suggested it. After what you’ve been through, you’re right to be apprehensive.”
She was so quiet for a moment that she might have been holding her breath. “That little declaration is either really shady of you… or it’s really sweet of you to understand.”
I chuckled. “For once I’m not being ‘shady’, but I’ve never been accused of being sweet.”
“I’ve seen you be sweet. You just weren’t there… Anyway… What did you need?”
“I was actually just calling for validation that you already gave me. By the time I arrived at my house, they were gone. I wanted to make sure that I hadn’t lost my mind.”
“Yes… I think ‘oh’ just about covers it.”
“Do you think they got back to… well, wherever?”
“I hope so.”
“Well, good for them then… Let me ask you something.” Like I could’ve stopped her.
“You said that taking your blood would heal me right away. Will the other side effects kick in pretty fast too?”
“Over the course of a few hours, they should. Why?”
“Well, IF I take it so that we can take advantage of you being able to feel me, I was thinking that I should probably practice… Would you mind if I go to Fangtasia tonight? You know, to kinda test drive it. You said that we’d probably be in New Orleans the next night…” My, my, my… of all things… reasoning with her and then backing off…
“IF you were to drink it, you probably could benefit from some practice. You’re more than welcome to do that at Fangtasia.”
She giggled, “Unless you’d rather come out here to Merlotte’s.”
“No thank you. We’ve already done that, I just wasn’t there.”
Her laugh was enough to make me smile. “I’ll see you tonight then, smart-aleck.”
As per my usual, I undressed and slid into my bed only to seemingly release more of Sookie’s scent into the room…
She had most definitely been there, between my sheets….
And even though I’d been in the room alone for nearly half an hour, there was an unfathomable warm spot on my mattress…
It seemed to wrap itself around me… and stayed with me until dawn.